The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

George Zimmerman was rightfully acquitted of all charges.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/9/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 683 times Debate No: 38718
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




My stance is as follows: George Zimmerman was rightfully acquitted of all charges of murder or manslaughter resulting in the death of Trayvon Martin, as supported by current laws and a logical assessment of all evidence available.


Conversely, I believe that with a logical assessment of all the evidence involved, the verdict was wrong. You may present your case.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for the challenge, and good debating to you, sir.

To reiterate, my stance is that the correct verdict was reached in the trial of George Zimmerman. The justification of this verdict lies in the legal definition of self defense, and the precedent cases related thereto. I will not take into account the legal definition of "Stand your ground" laws, as they do not pertain to this particular case. I will explain this assertion further at a later point in my argument.

To preface, the legal definition of "Self Defense" is as follows:

"n. the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger."[1]

In addition, s3(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 provides that:

"A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large."[2]

Of course, "reasonable force" is usually the concept being debated in any possible case of self-defense.
However, Palmer v R [1971] AC 814 held that:

"* A person who is being attacked should not be expected to "weigh to a nicety the exact measure of his necessary defensive action".
* If the jury thought that in the heat of the moment the defendant did what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary then that would be strong evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken.
* A jury will be told that the defence of self-defence will only fail if the prosecution show beyond reasonable doubt that what the accused did was not by way of self-defence."[2]

Given this foundation, I will move into the body of my argument, which will take the following format:

If A) Citizens have a legal right to defend themselves against legitimate risk of personal harm or death;
and B) George Zimmerman had legitimate reason to believe that his life was in danger;
Then C) George Zimmerman had the legal right to defend himself with reasonable force.

We know that George Zimmerman (GZ) was on duty as a voluntary neighborhood watch in his neighborhood in Sanford, Florida. It was well within the character of GZ to volunteer his time in such a manner, as expressed by those that knew him. We know that around the time of the incident, the particular neighborhood which GZ patrolled had been experiencing a rash of burglaries by young men.
Whilst on patrol, GZ observed Trayvon Martin (TM) cutting through the lawns of some of the neighborhood houses. As neighborhood watch, he acted upon his duty to investigate the suspicious activity. Many opposing views state that GZ was wrong in investigating TM, and should have phoned the police. However, his decision to investigate the situation was not a crime, and does not in any way relinquish his right to self defense; furthermore, this fact should expel the claims that TM was racially profiled, under this logic: if he had been profiled, GZ would have reported him immediately. Instead, he chose to investigate the situation himself, so as to not assume guilt of TM.
When GZ made the attempt to approach TM he fled, and GZ lost sight of him for a span of time. Contrary to popular anecdote, GZ did not pursue TM. At this point, GZ ceased investigation and phoned the Sanford police. This was the point where our evidence begins, for the conversation between GZ and the 911 operator was recorded, that recording having been used in the trial. Shortly thereafter, eyewitnesses were added to the pool of evidence, although the exact point in the conflict when this occurred is not confirmed.
Whilst on the phone with the 911 operator, GZ was asked the exact cross streets where he spotted TM. He did not know, so he left his vehicle to check the road signs. The 911 operator told him this was not necessary; this was often misconstrued in retelling of the events as the 911 operator advising GZ not to pursue TM, but this is not accurate, as pursuit of the suspect was never discussed in the conversation. Also, it is important to note that 911 operators have no legal authority, and choosing not to obey the guidance of the operator was not an unlawful act by GZ. Furthermore, it is standard procedure for 911 operators to assure those on the phone that their help is not necessary. This frees them from any liability should that party become injured. So the guidance of the operator was a standard line, not a legally binding order.
While GZ was out of his vehicle, TM came back and approached him and struck GZ in the face, knocking him to the ground. In any state in America, this was the first crime committed in this chain of events. He then pinned GZ on the ground and proceeded to strike him repeatedly in the face and bash his head against the concrete, moves that he learned from his training in mixed martial arts, as confirmed by his family and personal records. This continued for a span of time in the are of 40 seconds, as confirmed by the 911 recording and eyewitnesses.
After about 40 seconds of repeated blows to the face, GZ's jacket rode up, exposing his firearm in a shoulder holster. At this point, TM is quoted as saying "You're gonna die tonight, mother f****r" and reached for the firearm. This prompted GZ to brandish his weapon and fire, effectively killing TM in the process. This was an exercise in self defense, not any "Stand your ground" law, because such a law only applies to retreating from a possible attacker. There was no chance of retreat for GZ as he was pinned down, so "Stand your ground" is irrelevant to this particular case.

To summarize:
-GZ was acting within the law and within his duty as neighborhood watch when he chose to investigate TM.

-TM fled the scene, and GZ lost sight of him for a span of time. Because of this, it cannot be said that TM was acting in self defense, since he had made it to safety but chose to return to the conflict.

-TM was the first party to show aggression or make physical contact.
Beckford v R [1988] AC 130 holds that "A man about to be attacked does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot; circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike." However, this precedent cannot be applied to TM's actions, because by successfully fleeing GZ, his safety was not threatened. This principle does not allow one to return to the scene and initiate conflict. At this point, he has committed first degree assault.

-The physical altercation lasted for or around 40 seconds, with GZ making no attempt to reach his firearm, although he may have been justified in doing so. Only once TM saw the firearm, made a verbal threat to end GZ's life, and attempted to reach the firearm did GZ deem it reasonable force to shoot and kill TM. This tells us that GZ had no motive to kill TM from the outset, and even waited longer than he was obligated in hopes he didn't have to. Deadly force was only used when a legitimate threat to his life arose.

In closing, I return to the aforementioned structure of my argument.

"If A) Citizens have a legal right to defend themselves against legitimate risk of personal harm or death;"
Point A is evidenced by the legal definitions of self defence and the precedent cases involved

"and B) George Zimmerman had legitimate reason to believe that his life was in danger;"
The events of that day, climaxing in verbal threats to the life of GZ, serve as legitimate reason.

"Then C) George Zimmerman had the legal right to defend himself with reasonable force."
Given the circumstances GZ found himself in, incapacitation of his attacker was the only way to preserve his own life.

My argument rests on these points. You may present your rebuttal.



henryajevans forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


FreeThinker39 forfeited this round.


henryajevans forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Khaos_Mage 4 years ago
I'll give this a try if no one else does
Posted by FreeThinker39 4 years ago
Precisely. Many have voiced the opinion that the verdict was not rightful; thus, went against principle of the law. My stance is that justice was served and the law was upheld.
Posted by danielawesome12 4 years ago
I guess this debates going to come down to whether or not the acquittal was rightful
Merriam Webster's definition of rightful: right"ful adjective \G2;rīt-fəl: according to the law
: proper or appropriate
In this case I can only assume it's proper or appropriate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Weiler 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro is the only one who posted an argument, after which, both parties abandoned the debate. Pro gets more convincing argument and sources since he is the only one who posted either.